New British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who recently likened the European Union to Adolf Hitler’s vision for Europe, comes to Brussels Monday to meet for the first time with his EU colleagues, and says he hopes to cooperate closely.
Johnson led a winning campaign to persuade British voters to leave the European Union, but says the referendum’s outcome last month “in no sense means we are leaving Europe.”
“We are not going to be in any way abandoning our leading role in European cooperation and participation of all kinds,” Johnson says before the start of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting. He says last week’s terror attack in Nice, France, shows the need for European countries to coordinate their response to terrorism, and that he would support an EU call for “restraint and moderation” in Turkey following the failed military putsch there.
Despite Johnson’s anti-EU stance, Federica Mogherini, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, tells reporters that “our common work on foreign and security policy continues and today we will welcome him as a new member of the family.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who has said Johnson “lied a lot” to turn British public opinion against the EU, vows to speak to him “with the greatest sincerity and frankness.” Ayrault also calls for a quick start to formal talks on Britain’s exit from the 28-nation bloc to end what he called the current situation of uncertainty as to the country’s intentions and relationship with its European partners.